Big Ideas at ChemEd X

Shultz's JCE article

In the article “Reactions Catalyzed by an Assault on a Favorite Principle”1, Emeric Schultz (who incidentally taught me General Chemistry, was my undergraduate advisor, and is now a dear friend and colleague) argues the following:

“Although I have read and heard about ‘big ideas’ in chemistry, I have never seen a commensurate effort to work toward a high school chemistry program that starts from…big ideas and works down.”

Tackling Big Ideas


It was the empty terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach at 9:30 at night that really bothered me as I am wading through the stack of papers that I was grading. I had the students do experiments, worksheets, I lectured and there was homework. Some of the students could “do” what I thought was science. They could calculate the answer. They could balance the equation.

Unit Conversions: The good, the bad and the ugly


Like most chemistry teachers, one of the first things I go over in the beginning of the year is unit conversions. Students come into my class with all sorts of prior knowledge concerning unit conversions; some good, some bad and some downright ugly.

Significant Digits, Pool Tolerances, and Ties in Swimming

nascar & swimming

              With the Olympics just finishing up, I was excited to see the following link posted on twitter entitled: Significant Digits and Pool Tolerances are Why There are So Many Ties in Swimming. You see in my attempt to connect chemistry content to a real world application, I had used a scenario in an old YouTube vi

NGSS Integration and Chemistry Curriculum Design

NGSS logo

During my 2nd week into summer “vacation” I met with nine other secondary science teachers from my district. We set forth on a week-long curriculum design journey that involved the new Michigan Science Standards (basically NGSS).

The White Powder Activity

white powder

 I always feel a need to start the year off with an activity that ties in observations and conclusions but I also know that most students have had that in science classes since the early grades. Is there a way to revisit an old topic with a new or more challenging bent?